I like traveling alone, because I always get into adventures. I recently drove 4 hours from Wilmington to Salisbury to be in my main man American Matt's wedding. Lucky for me, I found out that one of my favorite musicians would be playing in a mountain town that night, just one hour away from the wedding.
Once the reception started winding down, I got in the Mustang and drove the hour west to a town called Morganton. I had only ever been to Morganton once, 25 years earlier, to eat steak. (You never forget steak trips no matter how young you were.)
When I pulled off the interstate and into Morganton, I saw the only thing Morganton is famous for: Broughton Mental Hospital. It was scarier than I had heard. It sits way up on a hill with highways circling around it. It looks scarier than The Shining. It's an old castle looking place with tons of window - windows that are all blacked out. It looked vacant, but I know there were thousands of people inside that were mentally anything but vacant. Hell, I knew that place was full of people with mental over-crowding.
I kept going and got to a gas station to get directions to the show that was listed as being at a place called "Night Owls." Some short country boy on a moped gave me directions that were hard to here because his voice was muffled, due to the fact that he never took his helmet off. I could tell he told me to take the "Bahh-Pace." (Bypass.)
So I took the bypass and parked across the street at some auto place. I walked into the bar, and for some reason they didn't ask for my ID or for me to pay to get in. This seemed weird, since everyone else had to pay and everyone else got ID'd and everyone else had to wear a Budweiser bracelet. And one other thing: everyone knew each other.
I was regretting rushing to the show, because the man I now realized the man I came to see perform would not be on until 2 metal bands went on first. So I bought a 23 ounce Bud Light for $2.50 and seemed to shock the bartender by tipping her $1.50. Apparently in Morganton the beers are cheap, and the customers are cheaper.
I decided to stand up against the wall in the back to not make myself get noticed. I did this, because I knew that everyone knew that I wasn't from there, and was naturally suspicious of a seemingly normal looking guy coming to Night Owls. This wasn't working.
If I moved to far to the left, I was intruding on a game at the one pool table. If I moved to far right, I was standing over this hot girl with big boobs in a low cut white shirt. Being low-profile was gonna be tough. As I danced left and right between the pool table and the boob-girl, I became perplexed by the clientele. It was mostly country boy metalheads with bad mustaches and black t-shirts of underground metal bands, and girls that were pretty and seemed to only mild Southern accents, if they had them at all. I decided there must be a college nearby.
With people whispering too loudly about me, (not rudely, just inquisitively,) I went outside and sat in the grass behind a car in the parking lot and chain-smoked, while cleaning out old voice mails and pictures on my cell phone. I decided I would pass the time until the man I came to see perform went on stage. Then I looked up and there that motherfucker was!
I know he's nobody to anybody else. But I am a huge fan of Joe Buck. (Not the baseball announcer, the Hellbilly Rock Star.) To see Joe Buck in person was the craziest thing. He does nothing to look scary. He just is. Marilyn Manson can put all the make up on and stupid contacts in that he wants and he doesn't look one-tenth as scary as Joe Buck does in jeans in a t-shirt.
That's what makes Joe Buck scary. He's being himself. He's about 6 foot 5. Lanky as shit. Pale and freckly. His eyes look demonic white. And he has a loose long red mohawk. The thing is, and this really didn't surprise me, I watched him being the most genuinely friendly redneck to all these Morganton rednecks. You see, he may be Hank Williams III's bass player who gets to live the high life, but when he travels solo, he actually seems most at home in weird towns like Morganton that are only known for mental institutions. He chain-smoked and chatted with the occasional fan that would speak to him in the parking lot. And I noticed he laughed and smiled at the shit they said. This didn't surprise me because most metal people are very nice when they're off the stage, since the get their demons and agression out when they're on it.
I decided not to talk to Joe Buck. I just don't want to meet heros. And this guy was the only one of my top ten favorite musicians that I had never seen live. I didn't want to ruin the show for myself.
As I watched drunks coming in and out of the tiny bar to smoke in the parking lot, I noticed Joe Buck mostly stayed outside and smoked. Then it clicked. I suddenly knew he was a junky. A cleaned up junky. He was not drinking, he was obviously sober, and he wasn't disappearing for drug-breaks like most musicians do before shows. I thought, "That's odd. Since all his songs are about drugs and the devil. This man isn't on drugs and he's anything but a devil."
Finally, the show was about to start. I went inside, and Joe Buck sat down at his drum (he plays one) and tuned up his guitar. Then he started kicking the hell out of his bass drum and started belting out "Evil Mother Fucker From Tennessee," and the crowd formed into a way I've never seen at a show. All 50 of us were only three rows deep, and we were circled around Joe Buck, while he sat below us in a chair playing his guitar, singing, screaming and stomping his bass drum. It was odd because we were, stomping our feet and heading banging and swinging our fists DOWN at him. This 6'5" guy had a circle of regular sized people rocking out over him. We were so up in this scary man's business that I could have strummed his guitar and kicked his drum and he didn't care. When he sang, sometimes his spit would fly at us. And the music is some of the fastest hard rock hillbilly devil music you'll ever here. And forget everything I said about him not being scary in the parking lot. He was now scary again.
He finished "Evil Motherfucker" which is a song that introduces who he is to those that don't know:
"MY NAME IS JOE BUCK.
AND I'M AN EVIL FUCK!!!!!!!"
Then he broke into "Devil is on His Way." This was was one of my favorites, so I started jumping around and acting as retarded as everyone else - by myself, in a mountain town I didn't know, full of mountain people I had never met. At least during Joe Buck's set, I knew we were all friends and they wouldn't mind me.
(I'll edit and finish this later. Red Eye is on.)